Mike Ashley has said he won’t attend next week’s parliamentary hearing about practices at Sports Direct’s Shirebrook warehouse.
The owner of the sporting goods retailer has confirmed that he will not be present at the inquiry with the Business, Innovation & Skills Committee scheduled for June 7 because the lawyer he wishes to accompany him is unavailable.
Ashley was formally ordered before MPs in March to attend the hearing next week to discuss working practices at the retailer’s Shirebrook warehouse. He initially dismissed the inquiry as ‘showboating’ before offering a conditional acceptance to the invitation last month.
However, negotiations over his attendance broke down despite a lengthy correspondence with committee chair and MP Ian Wright after he declined Ashley’s invite to visit the warehouse in question the day before the scheduled hearing.
Here is Wright’s response to Ashley cancelling his attendance in full:
“Mr Ashley says he has nothing to hide but – following a Parliamentary summons issued back in March for Mr Ashley to attend on 7 June – and when he stated that he was available on that date, he has only now indicated he will not be able to attend next week.
“We are very disappointed by this eleventh-hour notification, having given him a notice period of three months to make the necessary arrangements.
“As democratically elected MPs, we are responding to serious allegations of exploitative employment practices and mistreatment of workers at Sports Direct. Mr Ashley announced in December he would personally oversee a review of working practices at the Shirebrook warehouse.
”It is entirely reasonable for the Select Committee to ask Mr Ashley to respond to those allegations and comment on how his review – announced over six months ago – is progressing.
“Business leaders regularly come before the Committee and answer our questions. Sir Philip Green, for example, has agreed to attend as part of our joint inquiry into BHS. Does Mr Ashley, owning and operating a business in a parliamentary democracy, see himself as being beyond such public scrutiny? What has he got to be frightened of?
“The Committee will decide on the next steps when it meets next week.”